Gaining strength through community
Navigating a cancer diagnosis at any time can be incredibly challenging, but for people hearing the words “you have cancer” during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Cancer Society’s (CCS) support services have been critical.
An active mom to three young children, 35-year-old Alexis Juliao from London, Ontario, felt shocked when she was diagnosed with Stage I colon cancer in April 2020. Being diagnosed and treated for cancer during the pandemic, Alexis knows more than ever the importance of cultivating community through virtual support programs.
“Virtual programs are very important, if not possibly more important, because during the pandemic there is no other option,” says Alexis. “For people with cancer who live on their own and may be feeling alone and isolated in quarantine, virtual support programs allow for a sense of comfort, community and connection that may not be possible in-person.”
Interested in connecting with people from the cancer community, Alexis joined CCS’s CancerConnection.ca—a free, 24/7 online community, made possible through your lottery purchase, that brings together people with cancer and their caregivers, creating a space to ask questions, receive support and share experiences.
“CancerConnection.ca has been invaluable to me during my cancer experience,” says Alexis. “There is always someone there to offer support, advice, or just listen— people continue to check in and share practical tips, such as what to prepare before going to the hospital and what to expect after going through surgery, which is invaluable when you're going through the unexpected.”
These days, Alexis is recovering at home, and spending time enjoying her young family. She continues to share with others on CancerConnection and is grateful for the amazing community made possible with your support.
Team uncovers a cutting-edge way to treat cancer
Nanoparticles are so tiny that they can’t be seen with an ordinary microscope. But these little particles are proving to be a cutting-edge tool in treating cancer.
With funding made possible through your lottery support, it became possible for Dr Warren Chan and his team to engineer nanoparticles to search for tumours in the body and give better treatment options to people with cancer.
A great thing about nanoparticles is that they can be loaded with cancer-fighting drugs and injected into a person to treat a tumour. But, until recently, it was difficult to get enough of the nanoparticles to the tumour to be effective; most got trapped and removed by cells in the liver.
To overcome this, Dr Chan and his team uncovered an exciting new strategy called a “dose threshold.” Put simply, when a person is given a dose of the nanoparticles that exceeds a threshold level, the liver is unable to clear it away — allowing more of the drugs to reach the tumour.
This breakthrough has upped the efficiency of nanoparticle delivery from under 1% to 12% without any toxic side effects to patients. The researchers are now working to help move this type of technology into the clinic where it can lead to better outcomes for people with cancer — helping them live longer, fuller lives.
“The CCS funding is critical to this particular research project,” says Dr Chan. “Thank you for making this happen.”